Folk Punk Good-Bye | Teen Ink

Folk Punk Good-Bye MAG

October 24, 2016
By blume1776 BRONZE, Summit, New Jersey
blume1776 BRONZE, Summit, New Jersey
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The last half of my brother’s senior year of high school, he was rarely home. Ryan was either running with his track team, dancing at a punk show, or off with his girlfriend taking photos in an overgrown, abandoned greenhouse. At the greenhouse, hidden by the woods near the pool Ryan and I used to swim in, he and his girl would play folk punk songs on unmarked CDs. Inside the frame of the old building, they’d listen to music, sitting on a floor of broken glass.
He’d talk to me late at night, sharing slivers of his life and pieces of his interests. Our house was an outpost to him – a place of sleep, food, and endless stories glorifying his greatness that he filtered for my parents and me. I barely saw Ryan that spring and summer, but his presence, as always, was a dominating force in my life. So in August, when we finally left Ryan in his dorm room at Vassar College, his absence didn’t feel real at first.
Eating meals, doing homework, the routine of my life felt the same – just quieter. Only at night, with my dog and parents asleep, did the newfound silence become unsettling. Ryan and I used to meet up at midnight to eat our second dinner and watch cartoons. Now I was alone. And lonely.
My whole life, I followed Ryan’s lead. I would try to copy everything he did, but do it better. I’d try to run faster, be smarter, be funnier. My world was a comparison.
With Ryan gone, I continued to try to be him. I joined the cross-country team. I listened to his old music. I took my girlfriend to the same abandoned greenhouse he loved. Despite it all, I never could fill the quiet of our house. It’s not who I am. Or even what I really want to be.
I am a natural-born introvert. I spend hours reading and writing about imaginary worlds. I have friends, but they are not a necessity. With silent ease, I can meditate and be still with myself. I have always been the quiet observer, watching my brother create excitement with everything he did. I envied the life Ryan lived.
But when he left, I didn’t suddenly become the loud, attention-seeking narcissist who brought life and stress to the house. I did not replace Ryan. I could not replace Ryan. His departure did not make me a cross-country star or a hopeless extrovert.
In the end, nothing really changed. I remained the same. When he went to college and entered his next stage of life, I was stuck waiting. I was left behind in high school, seemingly destined to follow in my brother footsteps. But in my first year without him, I chose to be myself.
At home, I blast his folk punk songs through my headphones as I do my homework. I play his music not because I miss him, but because I love it. I hear the yelling and strum of the banjo, and for a moment the house isn’t so quiet

The author's comments:

I wrote this essay when my brother came home for fall break this year.  I am now a sophmore in high school. This essay is mostly for myself. I hope you enjoy.

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